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"You know, I know" : functions, uses, and acquisition of the Japanese noda predicate Renovich, Sachiko Omoto

Abstract

In the Japanese language, there are various modal elements, which mark speakers' subjective attitudes toward propositions. One of the most common modals is the noda predicate, which possesses the dual function of either asserting the truth of the position or relaying the speaker's desire for information sharing. Japanese Native Speakers (JNSs) use noda frequently in conversation; however, Japanese Language Learners (JLLs) often face difficulty in learning noda because of its wide variety in function and use. To determine the nature of noda use, this study examines conversational data from role-plays and a case study of two JLLs. The main aims of this thesis are 1) to review research on noda and to provide a cohesive and concise explanation of its functions and 2) to examine the use and acquisition of noda by JLLs. Following Noda's (1997) categorization, noda can be divided broadly into two types: scope and mood. Noda of scope exhibits the speaker's assertion that the proposition is true, while noda of mood marks the speaker's strong desire for information to be shared by speaker and hearer. This study proposes a framework with which to understand the functions of noda, and classifies information which is speaker-oriented (+ Speaker/- Hearer knowledge), hearer-oriented (-Speaker/+ Hearer), and shared (+ Speaker/+ Hearer). JLLs first tend to use noda with speaker-oriented information, and later acquire functions related to hearer-oriented and shared information. In the study of role-plays, JLLs with higher oral proficiency levels as rated by the ACTFL-OPI (Oral Proficiency Interview) used a higher frequency of noda. Both the JLLs and JNSs used noda primarily to provide and seek explanations. The intermediate-level JLLs underused noda in providing supplemental explanations. Other uses of noda in the role-plays included emphasizing information, seeking validity, and back-channeling. The two JLLs in the case study did not notice the use of noda during conversations with the JNS, but began to use noda more frequently during practice conversations upon receiving explicit instructions on the use of noda. While the post-test did not demonstrate increased use of noda due to the limited time of this study, there are clear indications for pedagogy. First, because the functions of noda are varied and numerous, Japanese language textbooks and classrooms should not be limited in providing only the 'explanation' function of noda. Second, the frequent use of noda in Japanese conversation suggests that it should be an area of focus in oral practice. Finally, JLLs need to develop skills in both comprehension and production of noda to improve their Japanese discourse.

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